American Horror Story’s Twisty the Clown: A Lesson in Mixing Masks and Makeup


You may have noticed, over my time writing for this blog, that I have a bit of a crush on makeup. I admire the artistry of blending, contouring, shading- which might be why I tend to be so darn picky about masks. Well, rubber masks. I love the daylights out of a myriad of super hero masks. And I clearly have an intense passion for masquerade masks, especially the ones that you can personalize. But something about rubber masks just rubs me the wrong way. Maybe it’s the fact that you can’t breathe or eat or drink in most of them. Maybe it’s the fact that it makes someone completely unrecognizable. Or maybe it really is that it’s just too easy. To be honest, I never thought that I’d have much use for rubber masks. But American Horror Story’s recent season premier gave me some inspiration where I didn’t expect it. Twisty the Clown.

Twisty the Clown

This guy.

I am terrified of Twisty. His silence, his movements. His penchant for stabbing people to death. Those teeth. I’ve never been very frightened of clowns aside from Tim Curry’s Pennywise. But Twisty takes the panic-inducing cake.

Did I mention the movements?

After the episode (and after I had checked my entire house for murderous clowns) I got to thinking about how darn effective the makeup design is for Twisty. I’ve seen some inspired clown makeup designs and there are some excellent clown masks out there, but Twisty’s design combines the two to terrifying effect. (Here’s a tutorial for my favorite scary clown tutorial I’ve found so far.) What’s most brilliant about Twisty’s makeup effects is that it combines the classic elements of clown makeup with the surreal horror that only props or masks can truly accomplish. They took part of a mask and attached it to actor John Carroll Lynch’s face. And the effect is breathtakingly messed up. So what can we learn from this? While AHS created a beautiful piece of prop magic for Twisty’s teeth, not everyone has access to a professional prop maker who can hand-craft a jaw or a beak or a nose. Instead, we can cannibalize a rubber mask and incorporate bits and pieces into our makeup. Stealing parts of a mask and stitching it into a makeup design is now at the top of my list of new techniques to try. I’m anxious to give it a shot and see what I can come up with for one of my many Halloween parties this year. More than anything I want one person, just one, to ask me “What happened to the rest of your mask?”  Now that would put a smile on my face.

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